Saturday, 31 July 2010

WIFE, BE LIKE A ROSE! (JAPAN/1935/MIKIO NARUSE)

Energised by her recent engagement, a spirited young woman named Kimiko decides to seek her father’s approval, with the ulterior motive of reuniting her estranged parents. With the support of her good-humoured uncle, Kimiko travels out to her father’s lowly abode in the countryside, only to discover that he has a family with a former geisha called Oyuki. The shocking discovery uproots Kimiko’s scheme, but she continues with it nonetheless, persuading her father to return to the city where he had brought her up during happier times. The illusion continues to dissolve as Kimiko’s poetess mother takes offence at her ex-husband’s presence, and good intentions are lost in the mix as old wounds are reopened.

The initial impression one gets of Kimiko is that she already has everything she needs in her life and has clearly flown from the nest. Rather than leaving the audience wondering the point of her failed attempt to reconnect her parents, director and writer Mikio Naruse constantly keeps us aware of Kimiko’s position in the family. In the presence of her mother, Kimiko becomes an excitable child, seemingly responsible for keeping her spirits up, and her search for father is more than just a search for the missing piece. As the artificiality in Kimiko’s mission is obvious to everyone but herself, one wonders whether there ought to have been more moments where she reflected on her expectations of the upcoming marriage, but such an immediate connection is perhaps too facile for a master like Naruse.





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